Alfred Lord Tennyson
Born on the 6th of August, 1809, in Lincolnshire to a sibling group of twelve children in total, Tennyson was the fourth. One of his earliest achievements that truly showed his natural talent towards his later career was the 6,000-line poem he wrote when he was only twelve. In the 1820s, Tennyson’s father, who did remarkably well to teach his son various things, began to fall ill from alcoholism and also from mental breakdowns. His family seemed to be falling apart especially when one of his brothers was sent to an insane asylum.
Tennyson found education in the form of Cambridge, landing in Trinity College, and he published his first works with his brother Charles, called ‘Poems by Two Brothers’. The publication of these works caught the eye of a group called the ‘Apostles’, led by Arthur Hallam, that saw potential and supported Alfred in his endeavours. Eventually Tennyson and Hallam became great friends and they toured Europe two times together. However, in 1833, Hallam died and Tennyson was shocked and dedicated a great many works to his friend, such as ‘In Memoriam’.
Tennyson had a drought of publishings when two tour collections, ‘Poems, Chiefly Lyrical’ and ‘Poems’, published in 1830 and 1832, were not received well by critics at all. Tennyson was considerably unhappy with their views and thus didn’t publish again for nine years. In 1840, Tennyson lost his inheritance when he invested unwisely and it also lost him the marriage he had planned with Emily Sellwood, whom he became engaged to four years prior. However, two years later, with the publication of ‘Poems’ in two volumes, he became a success and he solidified it in 1850 with ‘In Memoriam’. He then became poet laureate after Wordsworth and married Emily, having two sons, Hallam and Lionel.
Tennyson was extraordinarily successful, earning a good deal of money which allowed him to purchase a nice country house that he could seclude himself in whilst writing. In 1859, Tennyson published ‘Idylls of the Kings’ and it sold more than 10,000 copies in one month. In 1804, he was offered and accepted a peerage.
On the 6th of October, 1892, Tennyson sadly passed away, but he led a life of good triumph.
The poem was written in response to a disastrous engagement during the Crimean War. At the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854, the 637 cavalrymen of the Light Brigade, directly charged the Russian artillery. Tennyson saw this as a suicide mission, with 247 of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded. This particular war became well known because of Florence Nightingale, who nursed wounded soldiers during this war.
The tone is of admiration for the sacrifice of the men, but Tennyson wouldn’t forgive the incompetence of the high command. The poem explores the heroic battle between the English Light Brigade and the Russian army. Where Six hundred soldiers of the English Light Brigade rode gallantly to ‘the valley of death’ (symbolising the battlefield), in which the soldiers gave their lives for their country.